Federal Government to rescue 13,000 pilgrims ahead of hajj closure

06 July 2022   |   4:02 am

Less than 24 hours to closure of the 2022 pilgrimage, National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), yesterday, announced deployment of additional air carriers to evacuate intending pilgrims.

Consequently, the commission designated three locations, including Kano, Lagos and the Federal Capital Territory, for convergence of over 13,000 faithful waiting to be rescued, having been stranded for days at various camps.

The intervention comes, as Kano State Pilgrims Board laments cancelation of 66 visas. Saudi Arabia had granted Nigeria a diplomatic waiver and extension of landing permits by 48 hours to Afarat for airlines evacuating pilgrims from July 4 to 6.

A statement, yesterday, by NAHCON’s spokesperson, Fatima Usara, indicated that 29,128 of the total 43,003 pilgrims had been airlifted via 73 flights.

It noted that a Saudi carrier, FlyNas, would provide three aircraft with another, Kam Air, placed on standby to strengthen evacuation.

The commission said 8,620 visas had been processed, with 7,000 lucky applicants already departing Nigeria for Saudi Arabia.

Briefing journalists on Kano contingents, the board’s executive secretary, Mohammad Abba Danbatta, regretted the cancellation of 66 visas, recalling rejection of Azman Air due to alleged capacity deficit.

On what becomes the fate of the stranded pilgrims in Kano, Danbatta expressed hope that the rescue operation would evacuate the leftover.

He added that some 900 pilgrims would be conveyed through Azman Air, while the remainder is to be transported via FlyNas Airline.

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